Dear David Hudson

How one professor changed the course of my entire college career.

Chloe McElmury, Senior Columnist

Four years ago, I was applying to a narrow niche of colleges and universities. I only looked at private, four-year institutions that offered creative writing as a major. At the time, I was convinced I wanted to become a published author of romances I could only dream about. I had my heart set on an art school in Chicago, where I had fallen in love with gritty art studios with concrete floors and the architecture of the Windy City.

A few months and a rejection letter later, I blindly accepted my spot in Hamline’s 2015 first-year class. Luckily, a few months later when I toured I fell in love, but it was one of the riskiest things I’ve ever done that would later have a huge impact on my life.

However, heartbroken by the rejection I had received, I was no longer writing. All of my finished (and half-finished) novels were left undisturbed in various Google Drive folders. I felt like because I hadn’t been accepted to this one school, I could never write again.

My first semester at Hamline, I was lucky enough (and I didn’t even know how much at the time) to choose my English 1110 class with David Hudson. I remember looking him up on, where today he’s been described as everything from “delightfully eccentric” to “an admirable human being.” I couldn’t agree more, and I am so happy to know others find David so special.

Although I’ve already told him, David was the one person who inspired me to start writing again. One day in class we were discussing why people write and I was flooded with remembrances of the feelings I experienced when I would write. I remember writing down what he said, which escapes me now, but it profoundly impacted me. I remember how I wanted to make people feel anything—love or disgust or horror. That day after class I spent the whole rest of my day reading through my drafts, editing and becoming excited again. I’m fairly certain I stayed awake until 2 or 3 a.m. that night, but I was passionate and electric for the first time in far too long.

After that semester, I began soaring through English courses. At the end of my first year, David encouraged me to apply to work in the Writing and Communication Center (WCC), as he thought I would be a great fit. I applied for the position, although I honestly had zero credible experience besides David telling me I would excel at it from peer-editing in his classes. I, of course, did not get the position but I never would have put myself out there if not for David.

Since the beginning of my senior year, I have now been a consultant with the WCC, which I absolutely love. I’ve been able to help so many students, both graduate and fellow undergraduates, with their essays, presentations and capstone papers. I even got to help design a new logo for the WCC!

I took four English courses in a row with David and made him my advisor for my professional writing studies. Although I didn’t love literature, and I still don’t (sorry), David’s passion for British literature got me through the semester. One of our classes together only had eight students (this was before Hamline more vehemently began enforcing course minimums), but it was the best class I’ve ever taken.

I finally joined The Oracle in my sophomore year and I’m upset I didn’t sooner. For those of you outside of The Oracle, David acts as our advisor. I got to attend an ACP conference in Washington D.C., where I got to see David a bit more casually, like while at dinner celebrating our accomplishments as an editorial staff. This was the first time I had interacted with any professor outside of being on campus, and it only reaffirmed David’s kind and caring nature.

Now that it’s the end, and I’m tearing up while typing this, I can’t imagine it all being over. David, you’ve been with me since my very first semester here. That was a time when I was so unsure of myself or my talents or what I could contribute to the world. Flash forward to now, and you’ve given me so much courage and strength.

Dear David, I hope you know how much of an impact you make on your students, Oracle members and everyone who has the good fortune to know you. I think sometimes you like to sell yourself short, but you’re an extraordinary individual.